Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda National Ramsar Committee has endorsed Lake Bunyonyi as a ramsar site.
A ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention that was established in 1971 during an intergovernmental environmental treaty by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
In 2020, environmentalists submitted their request to the government requesting to make the lake shared by Rubanda and Kabale district, and the second deepest lake in Africa, be transformed into a ramsar site.
On Thursday, the National Ramsar Committee endorsed the request. Joseph Ongol, a Principal Wetlands Officer at the Ministry of Water and Environment who chairs the committee says that the endorsement was reached in an agreement with officials from the Environment and Water Ministry, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Local government, Uganda Wildlife Authority, National Environmental experts and Conservationists.
According to Ongol, the government needs to protect designated sites so as to enjoy the benefits of this recognition. He also says that the endorsement will improve the monitoring of the lake against destruction.
Eng. Ivan Mbabazi Batuma, the Kigezi Tourism Cluster President, says that recognition of the Lake will attract tourists.
“We are hopeful that the lake’s profile will grow and as stakeholders, we hope to receive more tourists aboard which is quite exciting for the industry in this region,” says Mbabazi.
Diaz Drake Owoyesigyire, a tour operator at Lake Bunyonyi says that the recognition will boost the conservation of the lake since it had started experiencing pollution.
Wycliffe Rushaju, a tour leader at Gorillas and Beyond Safaris says that Lake Bunyonyi’s international recognition will bring in more visitors and improve its ability to attract researchers.
Achilles Byaruhanga, the Nature Uganda Executive Director says that what is left is for the government to write to the International Ramsar secretariat to consider designating the lake.
Records from Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA indicate that Uganda currently has nine ramsar sites. They are the Lake Mburo-Nakivali wetland system in Lake Mburo National Park, Murchison Falls-Albert delta wetland system, Lake Bisina Wetland System, Lake Nakuwa Wetland System, and Lake Opeta Wetland System in Eastern and Northeastern Uganda.
Others are Sango Bay-Musambwa Island-Kagera Wetland System (SAMUKA), Nabajjuzi Wetland System, Lutembe Bay Wetland System, and Mabamba Bay Wetland System.